Where Julio Jones ranks among top WRs

Julio Jones just got a huge contract extension from the Falcons. Where does he rank among the NFL's best WRs?

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)

Where Julio Jones ranks among top WRs

(Note: This article was updated to reflect the news of Julio Jones’ contract extension.)

On Saturday, the Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones became the next star wide receiver to cash in with a big contract extension, following on the heels of mega-deals for the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant and the Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas. The deal is reported to be worth $71.5 million over five years, with $47.5 of that guaranteed.

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would question whether Jones is worth that type of money, given his physical talent and ability. But based on his on-field performance, where exactly does Jones rank at the position, compared to Bryant, Thomas and the league’s other elite wide receivers? Our new PFF rating system can help answer the question.

Jones ranks tied for fifth with Bryant in PFF rating entering this season (think of it as a measurement that predicts how well a player will perform this season — basically, how good is this player right now?), behind only Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson and Randall Cobb.

What stands about his 2014 performance is his efficiency — he ranked fourth in our yards per route run metric, and was particularly devastating on deep routes, ranking third in the NFL behind only Bryant and DeSean Jackson in terms of catch rate on throws over 20 yards. His most effective route types were go routes and post routes, which combined to make up 24 percent of his targets.

Bottom line: Jones is a top-5-caliber NFL wide receiver. Provided he is able to stay healthy, this should prove to be a worthwhile investment for the Falcons.

| Editor-in-Chief

Jeff is the Editor-in-Chief of PFF, and a regular contributor to The Washington Post's NFL coverage. He previously worked as the editor for ESPN Insider's NFL, Fantasy, and College Football coverage.

  • Devin Balkaran

    He’s a great player no doubt, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Not sure I would want to give a guy who is always banged up a massive contract with tons of guarantees.

  • Andrew Dempsey

    No doubt he’s a top 10 receiver but top 5 is pushing it. Injuries keep him out.

  • LightsOut85

    According to the recent film-charting project (marking when WRs got open, on what routes, etc) at Backyard Banter, the top 5 (in the opinion of the writer) – based on 2014, were Megatron, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr, Dez Bryant, and Jordy Nelson – pretty fair, IMO. My thought is, at this point, Jones has to rely more on his physical abilities (compared to the top guys) to get open, which doesn’t produce as consistent of results as a refined route-runner. IIRC, Jones did well, but just not THAT elite.

    Random WR fun-fact from that study – Demaryius Thomas is pretty bad. At least, compared to the perception most have of him. Of the 9 most common non-screen routes, his success rate (% time got open) was only above NFL AVERAGE (!) in FOUR of them! (Slants, and the 3 “deep” routes, post, go/9, & corner).

    Granted, he is very fast & probably *the* best WR with the ball in his hands, so on screens/slants/9s he is able to make big plays (production vs technical ability). However, the aforementioned 4 routes only made up 43.2% of his total sample, lowest among all the WRs looked at. Even if you throw in screens (where his 7.2% was near the highest), he’s still last. Meaning, half of the time he’s going to be getting open less often than an *average* WR. Luckily he’s played in a system that masks this. If he were the only talented target on a team with a so-so QB, I think his performance would be very hot-&-cold.

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  • Ke Sa

    I think if Julio were on a team with an OL that kept his QB off his back, we’d see him as the #1 or #2. Can’t imagine how many more opportunities Julio would’ve had with Dal or god forbid GB. He matched Dez w a horrific OL.

  • Tim Edell

    I would have a very hard time saying Randall Cobb is a better WR then Julio or Dez.

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